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The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales
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The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Murder, mutilation, cannibalism, infanticide, and incest: the darker side of classic fairy tales figures as the subject matter for this intriguing study of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Nursery and Household Tales. This updated and expanded second edition includes a new preface and an appendix containing new translations of six tales, along with commentary by Maria Tatar. Thro ...more
Paperback, Expanded Second Edition, 368 pages
Published May 26th 2003 by Princeton University Press (first published 1987)
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Dec 06, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it
The Hard Facts of the Grimms' Fairy Tales is a pretty good discussion of, not the origins of the tales in the Grimms' collection, but in how the Grimms treated them and why. It looks at some of the publication history and the issues surrounding different editions, the changes in audience, and it deals with some pretty common interpretations of some of the tales (e.g. why Bluebeard is considered a cautionary tale about the evils of curiosity instead of, you know, the evils of killing your wives a ...more
Aug 08, 2013 Penny rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I can't say I read this from start to finish. I read this as a companion book while reading The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales and honestly it made all the difference! I didn't particularly care for the Tales, they seemed rather abrupt, strange and often left me with a slightly bad feeling, but this book made up for all of that.

The most interesting part of the Grimm's Tales is the history of the lore and how the stories have changed over time. I learned through this book that the commonly read and
Ana Mardoll
Dec 27, 2009 Ana Mardoll rated it it was ok
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Hard Facts of Grimms' Fairy Tales / 0-691-11469-2

Like many of us, I am deeply interested in fairy tales and I eagerly anticipated this book, looking forward to an engaging, informative handling of the content and textual analysis of the Grimms' tales, with a focus on the un-"child-friendly" elements so common in the stories, due to their original intent to entertain mature audiences.

Unfortunately, I was profoundly disappointed in this book. Clarity and organization are severely lacking and the
Sarah Smith
Mar 05, 2014 Sarah Smith rated it it was ok
Skipped around a lot through this book because it was just waaaayyyy too much useless information. She spent more time telling the fairy tales than actually talking about the history behind them; at least, that's how it felt to me.
Paula Soper
Feb 25, 2014 Paula Soper rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book is really interesting. I have learned a lot about fairy tales (or folk tales or folktales). If you like fairy and folk, this is the book for you.
Edward Batres
Dec 22, 2012 Edward Batres rated it liked it
The chapter on Sex and Violence was the best...
Apr 24, 2012 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
Fairy Tales without the Victorian cleaning white-wash.
Mar 14, 2013 Margaux rated it really liked it
Maria Tatar did a wonderful job of explaining the history of the Grimms' Fairy Tales in this book. The first section on the sexualization and desexualization of the stories we now associate with young children was a totally new concept for me. I never would have thought to look at Jacob Grimm & Wilhelm Grimm's educational background to deduce how they would have come up with their stories, nor would I have thought to question the long-believed notion that the Grimms got their stories from "f ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Sapote3 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed the excerpts from the original Grimms' that were appended at the end; I skipped over a great deal of the intermediary analysis. What I really loved about this book was the way it redeemed stories that have been treated as the birth of "children's literature" and pointed out that these were originally part of a community storytelling tradition that included adults and children both. I loved that glimpse into a very eloquent - if gorey - oral tradition - I'm afraid I've really ...more
Nathan Dehoff
Dec 30, 2015 Nathan Dehoff rated it really liked it
The scholar who did the annotations for The Annotated Brothers Grimm here does a general overview of the brothers' collection of stories, noting how it developed and what changes they made to it. While it was first billed as a collection of folklore for fellow academics, it became popular with children, so the Grimms altered the tales accordingly. Interestingly, while they tended to edit out references to sex, they increased the violence in many cases. They also often changed evil mothers into s ...more
Jennifer Orr
Feb 17, 2011 Jennifer Orr rated it liked it
My youngest is obsessed with fairy tales right now and after many evenings of glossing over some of Grimms' finest for appropriate bedtime reading, I started wondering about the history of these stories. This book didn't go as deep as I wanted into how and where these stories actually originated; that probably is an impossible task. But it is an interesting look at how the Grimms modified these tales for their collection (Rapunzel pregnant!) and analyzes the messages behind some of these tales.
Sep 19, 2013 Jo rated it really liked it
A great look at the importance of fairy tales and their nature. This book looks in depth at the violence and didactic means of communicating with child. Specifically looking at Grimm's fairy tales, Maria Tatar explains how and what the Brothers Grimm did to local stories and how they compare to their French and Italian predecessors. It also looks at patterns in fairy tales such as hero and villain characteristics. This is an excellent resource when researching fairy tales.
Jun 08, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mythology
Wonderful and fascinating exploration of fairytales!! Sets up the historical development of the Grimm's collection and examines the prolific themes of heroes, heroines, ogres, and beasts. Excited to see Maria Tatar speak this summer!
Anna Rose
Jul 14, 2013 Anna Rose rated it really liked it
This book looked at the beginnings of Grimm's fairy tails and their prominent themes and motifs. It also addresses other folk tales and fairy tales. From the beginning to the end, I found this book engaging and thought-provoking. If you are a fan of fairy tales, this is a great read.
Huijia Li
Apr 21, 2013 Huijia Li rated it really liked it
Shelves: fairytales, folklore
Very interesting exploration of the themes of violence, sexuality, obedience and victimization in the Grimms' tales. She also discusses the evolution of the tales from first edition to the last, and how the editorial process of the Grimms affected each edition.
May 20, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: ownit
Good scholarly examination of the Grimm tales - where they came from, why/how they were changed, what themes and characters to look for. I'm doing some short stories with some Grimm characters in them, so this was/is good research.
Library book - ordered my own copy today.
Aug 06, 2008 Bob rated it it was amazing
A look at the classic Grimm Brothers fairy tales in their uncensored form tracing their transformation from adult reading material to the watered-down tales that many of us first heard as children.
May 17, 2013 StephTKO rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, sociology, own
This is a great book for any one interested in the psychology of fairy tales. Putting aside the subject matter, this book was just absurdly well written. Maria Tatar, evil genius.
Jun 26, 2009 Hazel rated it it was ok
Shelves: never-finished
Very interesting subject, but this approach is a bit too scholarly for me right now. I may try it again later on.
Paul Birchenough
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Maria Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology at Harvard University. She is the author of Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood, Off with Their Heads! Fairy Tales and the Culture of Childhood and many other books on folklore and fairy stories. She is also the editor and translator of The Annotated Ha ...more
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